Thursday, November 13, 2008

The GOP Facing an Identity Crisis

If anything can be said about the last election, it is that the American public, with all its warts and bigotry, trusted a democrat over a republican for president and by and large for both house and senate seats.

The brains of the GOP, though, are splitting into several camps most notably the even-less-regulation neo con prayer warrior anti-environmental war hawks and those that suggest that the party needs to broaden their platform and base without, necessarily, disagreeing or agreeing with the former.

Sarah Palin, who has miraculously held more press conferences in the 8 days since defeated at the polls than she did in the 12 or so weeks running up to the election, now just won't shut up. Except when it comes to her future intentions.

Remarkably, Palin hasn't figured out she is not on the campaign trail anymore and continues the William Ayers line (while also near simultaneously commenting she would be "honored" to work with Obama), still talks about 'Joe the (tax avoiding, unlicensed) plumber" and "Tito the builder" and clearly refuses to say that she will fill out her next two years as governor (Larry King interview) adding to the continuing speculation about her interest in felon Ted Steven's senate seat and possibly the 2012 presidential election.

Palin believed that God's will would be shown in the fate of the election. She said that she now puts her political future in God's hands, as well; a point of view I find particularly scary in any politician.

But for now--and almost despite herself--Palin is no more than a dot on a dice as the GOP is forced to take a long, hard look at itself and its platform.

If anything, Palin represents the past and the hard right neo con and religious wing of the party; the one that is tacitly responsible for the wildly unpopular and extremely expensive Iraq occupation (yes, the one that we had no business beginning). The one that is clearly and unarguably not only anti-environmental, but anti-science. The one that preferred tax breaks (ala Reagan) that redistributed middle class moneys to the already extremely wealthy (much like we are doing, literally in fact, today). The one that believes the earth is 5,000 years old and supports the teaching of creation in school science classes under the rubric of "intelligent design". The one that does not believe women should take birth control pills as they are abortifacients. The one that believes that global warming is not attributable to human beings. The one that believes that military occupations are somehow mysteriously "winnable", preferring the incorrect language of "war". The one that believes that social security should be privatized. The one that believes spying on regular citizens without specific cause is justified. The one that supports torture but does not support (and didn't support) veterans or safety for soldiers on foreign shores. The one that believes the vice president is not part of the executive branch of government and trounces upon not only the US Constitution but ignores congressional subpoenas. The one that obfuscates truth and openness by using private, untraceable means of communication ala Rove (the Blackberry and private yahoo accounts). The one that hides scientific study and lies to promote faux science in regard to endangered species, clean air, clean water and clean food and handcuffs science by imposing religious morals on everything from abortion to stem cell research. The one that brands those who are lgbt as "treatable", thus abnormal, refusing to assert that equality either is or isn't equal after all. The one that believes that everyone in America already has health insurance because they can receive initial treatment at emergency hospitals. The one that verbally berates socialism but practices it on a daily basis through distribution of taxes and funding to support everything from infrastructure and bridges to nowhere to using public dollars to bail out banks while letting taxpayers lose their homes. The one that supports populism on its face but clearly opposes it in its structures and commitments. The one that eschews intellectual elites while being cultural elites. The ones screaming about exclusion while excluding. The one that calls itself middle class while having a net worth of $1.2 million. The one that pretends to value education while making college degrees, and especially Masters, Ph.D.s and DVMs and J.D.s, near economically impossible for the average person. The ones willing to continue subsidies to the oil industry (and others) while they are showing their highest profits in history. The ones that supported "trickle down" and "supply side" economics. These were all either platforms of McCain, Palin or issues which McCain (who many believe was too liberal a Republican) voted for.

And this is the short list.

As oft observed of the GOP Convention, it was largely a white "blue-hairs" bunch. Contrast that to the Dem convention: young to old, and all possible colors. The majority of those voting for McCain were seniors and white. That demographic is never going to get bigger.

Those like Newt Gingrich, which some believe have a hashed past, have not disappeared. Gingrich, inspiration for the Contract for America (or Contract on America as many of us came to understand it) recently told Hannity (Fox News) that he will make a decision in 2011 as to whether he will run for president. In the meantime, he wants to continue to push his "Drill here, drill now, pay less" mantra. Given we have not increased drilling, and prices have gone down much to the chagrin of OPEC and Market Street, apparently Newt may have missed the fact that oil prices rose (much like the Enron debacle) through market manipulation. No drilling was necessary. And drilling isn't the solution, anyway. So good luck with that, Newt.

Wednesday, Sarah Palin and other rising GOP governors began the first of their three-day Republican Governors Association conference. That must be exciting after November 4. Palin gave the keynote speech. Also. Too.

Of course, this is just the beginning of the jockeying for 2012 and several governors, as of now, are seen as potentials for the presidential bid. Personally, I am hoping Palin will run. She is so incredibly fun to write about and I believe so incredibly easy to defeat. And who knows whose ugly head will rear up next to her beloved Alaska by then or fly through her airspace. And maybe she can wipe out a whole bunch more species by then.

The republicans also need a new party chairman. It appears they are looking for someone with a pulse this time. I suggest "Joe the (unlicensed, tax evading) Plumber" given their sudden interest in populist winks and hoodwinks. He's looking for work. Actually, I think Joe worked for a septic pumping company which would be perfect? You betcha.

I am not really too sure what the GOP is trying to reinvent itself into. Would that be something that looks like an elephant but with a really long (and appropriate) Pinocchio nose with deep pockets like Goofy? Would that be the "kinder, gentler" George Bush Sr. type (who hired Hill and Knowlton to PR his Mideast disaster) or his son the gotta-kill-everything-that-moves "fool me once...", God-told-me-to-do-it George/Palin type?

Right now, nothing is really known but it is definitely time to stock up on popcorn. It could turn out to be another dramatic comedy.